Nymphs in Fly Fishing

If you are dedicated to fly fishing you will probably want to know as much as you can about every aspect of the sport – and in this blog we even touch upon Greek mythology. The subject in hand is the nymph. Originally the term nymph described only the larval stage of mayflies and damsel and dragonflies, with the latter sometimes being referred to as naiads. In Greek mythology, though, the nymph (pronounced “nihmf”), was a lovely maiden who guarded the different realms of nature. Oreads watched over the hills and mountains, and nereids were responsible for the Mediterranean Sea. The ocean was protected by the oceanids, while dryads and hamadryads took care of the trees and forests.

Appropriately for the purpose of fishing taxonomy, the naiads were the nymphs of the rivers, brooks, and streams. Many naiads guarded springs that were believed to inspire those who drank their waters. These creatures were thought to have powers to prophesy and to inspire people. Nymphs were sometimes shy, but at other times they were passionate lovers (perhaps inspiring the contemporary association with the word “nymphette”). These nymphs were generally friendly and kind to mortals but occasionally they would punish people offended them – nothing to do with modern day gold-diggers, of course! Nymphs are represented in tales and in imagery with fauns and satyrs in the forest, or playing around the keels of ships. Although they lived for a long time, they were not usually considered immortal. All of this is worth remembering the next time you’re fly fishing in some secluded spot or other!

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